Site Map
Self-Realization Fellowship Ramifications
Section › 15 Set Search Previous Next

Terms

Reservations Contents  

Walruses

Wisdom The organ of speech is the Supreme Brahman. - Brihadaranayaka Upanishad 4

Nikhilananda adds in a note that the organ of speech in this case refers to the deity fire, Agni. (1964:221). Another approach: Ekam sat, Oneness is; it includes the impulses to speak.

More philosophically:

The breathless font of life, undistingushed from its cause: apart from it was nothing, and It breathed.

The gods came later than this world. Then, who knows where this creation comes from, from where it first came into being?

The source that this universe has sprung from, its very first origin, the Eye, controls this world in highest heaven, and knows this world.

- Fragments from the Vedic Hymn of Creation, which is here: Rigveda 10:129.

Thus, from Ekam sat springs the world. And from an organisation, troubles. An Old Testament outlook: God, the We, created the world and liked it at first. Then he created man and regretted. And man created the institution and organisation to lord it over him. Man also created cities so poorly that they stifle him a lot.

Yajnavalkya says:

Wisdom In the beginning, this universe was the self (Viraj) alone. He first said: "I am He." Therefore He came to be known by the name I (Aham). (1)

He was afraid [but] thought: "Since there is nothing else but Myself, what am I afraid of?" Thereupon His fears were gone; for what was there to fear? Assuredly, it is from a second entity that fear arises. (2)

He became the size of a man and wife in close embrace. He divided this body into two. From that division arose husband (pati) and wife (patni). . . . space is indeed filled by the wife. He was united with her. From that union human beings were born. (3)

He (Viraj) realized: "Indeed, I am the creation, for I produced all this." (5) In [the Self] all these become unified. Of all these, this Self alone should be known. (7)

This Self is . . . dearer than everything else, because It is innermost. . . . (8)

Whoever . . . knows the self as "I am Brahman," becomes all this universe. (10)

- Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 1.4.1-10, passim. (Nikhilananda 1956)

From an organisation, many troubles

If you have something of value to be implemented and try to establish a company to help you, consider all that gets lost and wasted in it - time, concerns, wasted efforts, paperclips and much else. Parkinson's law (adage) with extensions refer to the self-satisfying, uncontrolled growth of the bureaucratic apparatus in an organisation, that primary barrier to efficient time management. (Parkinson 1957) (WP, "Parkinson's Law")

But that is not all: What if it is the organisation you once started to help you to carry the torch, works against your good ideals later, and thereby stifles and changes you, depletes you and makes you lose interest? Yogananda once wrote:

Yogananda "I have done such a horrible act like eating feces by starting an organization."
"I have performed an absolutely foolish act by starting an organization."
"I have committed a great blunder by starting an organization."

Yogananda set SRF in motion and repented it at least one day. Starting SRF was a foolish blunder, he wrote. There is not much information about why he repented starting SRF, for how long he did, and what he might have done to remedy matters. At any rate, SRF got momentum.

If he reneged, it could be fair to shut down his organisation while it was small. But "too little, too late", perhaps, also in the light of the further, cloistery SRF fare. [◦Documentation]

What may be suspected is that a horrible, absolutely foolish blunder may have unwelcome repercussions, perhaps also ramifications of folly and troubles if the matter is not remedied well. Not to do so would be another folly. The SRF founder's handwritten letter is here: [◦Yogananda admits it]

Yogananda realised that starting SRF was a foolish mistake. Should his devotees back up SRF or not? One obvious solution: Stay away from it. Another: Get out if you can, as we may all have clearer and brighter moments.

But if you realise you have made a mistake and don't do anything to rectify it or yourself, troubles could be in store for you and perhaps for many others too. Try to make the future damages less, and at least don't go for multiplying them. One way springs to the eye: keep the prospectively damaging things "cloistered, walled in".

Peaceful havens?

Some would say: "Yogananda regretted starting SRF, but that was long ago. Today Self-Realization Fellowship is headed and run by monastics; the organisation is taken well care of. After one third of the SRF monastics left the SRF premises between 2000 and 2005 (Jon Parsons 2012:170), things are just fine, I hope."

They might be wrong, even though the SRF places look peaceful as compared to Los Angeles in general. However, they also looked like peaceful havens just a few years before one third of the SRF monastics left too, at least to Jane Dillon in her doctoral study that included one SRF nunnery or more. [More on Jane Dillon's Doctoral Dissertation]

It matters to discern between facade and real content. There was a difference between surface appearances and what actually was happening among the "loyal, devoted bunch" in those years. Lola Williamson writes about what really went on in SRF at the time, such as,

A labyrinth of difficulties beset the organization. Some people could not even sit in the same room with others because there was so much bad feeling. . . . SRF hire[d] outside communication and organizational consultants to offer advice on how to handle the situation. They also suggested that SRF hire counselors and psychologists to deal with the festering psychological problems that some of the monastics seemed to be experiencing. Two new committees . . . were formed . . ." (Williamson 2010:76)

The problems were not solved well. There is more here: [Much more]

Not so peaceful - court cases

A good part of what SRF works for and lives by and feeds on is based on Yogananda's lectures, sermons, and talks. They fought in court for many long years for the needed copyrights.

Kriyananda was once an SRF monastic, and ended up with about the same teachings and ways of thinking as them, although SRF fought him and his Ananada Church for many years for the rights to Yogananda "bones" of writings, although Yogananda is quoted to have said to a direct disciple:

Yogananda Don't take my word for anything. . . . Don't get hung up on words . . . please remember. - Yogananda, in Dietz 1998

"Different strokes for different folks." Some benefit from good teachings, and to remember that Yogananda told "Don't get hung up on words" is that. It does not mean SRF's and other publishers' wordy lessons or article jumbles are the top teachings.

SRF lost the right to much Yogananda material in that 12-year long legal feud with the Church of Ananda. SRF filed a massive lawsuit for trademark, publicity rights, and copyright infringement. The judge and jury did not favour SRF in all respects, but some of them. [◦Details]

The founder of Ananda, Swami Kriyananda, had got hold of lots of lands in 1968 - 160,000 m2 near Nevada City, California, and his spin-off society had 125 meditation groups in 19 countries before he passed away, and presents itself as a global movement that is based on the teachings of Yogananda. They produce videos, articles, online books, and online classes and more.[◦Ananda Sangha] And as with other leaders in alternative communities, his conduct was not liked by all and sundry - [Details]

Inconsistent teachings

Yogananda set wheels rolling, in part by inconsistent teachings and practices, dubious propaganda, and also his hailing of dictatorship (Yes, he did, in 1934).

Yogananda teaches the world is pretence. If the world is illusory, as he says, his teachings would be of very little substance. Isn't it pretence? But compare: "Illusion is itself illusory", says Ramana Maharsi.

By and by Paramahansa Yogananda's teachings turned into exhorting "God-lore" and the original kriya teachings were simplified and changed. The kriya hype was vastly expanded. That fact should not be hard won at all. Is there an ignoble guy around somewhere? Could an honourable fellow put massive, unverified hype and marring propaganda in the way of good folks and raise huge expectations in the victims of it - the gullible beginners and "doctrinated" followers by and by? A hard-hearted slob might, and even a lot.

Ide Buddha teaches that results of meditative efforts derive from the method that is used, and neither from expecting or not expecting results. So, fine effects of meditation depend on choosing a fit way or method and do it properly, within sound limits. Such effects tend to come as results of meditating, and some may be measured too. Other effects, subtler ones, may not be easily discerned. One would do well to allow for that to happen too. [Bhumija Sutta]

We can at times combine counsels from a variety of sources: Before we choose a meditation method or system of methods, we can do ourselves a good turn by seeing which methods come out on top among the researched methods, and thus be informed about which method to expect the most of, from the averages that research findings are typically based on. Further, in between meditations we may measure up changes in our lives, say, every month or two or so. Then, based on changes or trends we get aware of we may tentatively or halfway expect further beneficial results too - provisonally. Still, during meditation sessions we could aim at just doing the methods to benefit that way.

During such sessions, vagrant thoughts and expectations may calmly be replaced by resuming the method as often as we find we have drifted off from the wholehearted practice, and that his how to do it during simple, elegant ◦TM, Transcendental Meditation, the test winner far and wide. Study the research.

Thus, through a fit training perspective, we reach higher ground, clearer outlooks, a synthesis in step with Buddha and TM practice, and without discounting Lahiri's belittling of expectations if it is understood to apply for kriya-yoga sessions only.

In sum, it may not be unfit to expect results from meditation when not meditating, but during meditation it is good to keep at "suitable methods, giving them one's attention" and to such an end try not to let expectations or other thoughts disturb or override the serene mind that meditation could bring (in time, if not yesterday).

From your higher ground you get helped to clearer views, for example, "There is false play about Yogananda guidelines and SRF's leaving out some, yet "not finding faults with guru statements that may rob one of enough nightly sleep, a fulfilling and rewarding sex life, reasonable or sensible dieting, and how he once regretted having starting SRF - and there is much else false play around too.

SRF preaches "original Christianity as taught by Jesus Christ" (that is Jesusianism), even though monasticism was no part of any "Jesus Christianity", and there was no Christianity before he was executed either, according to Acts 15. [◦More]

There is much false play in SRF.

Under the influence of Yogananda

There is no sect without members to uphold it as such by submitting to it and its creed. Compare: "It takes two to tango". It is wise to guess that SRF deflectors are not all alike, and yet, deflectors may carry a lot of such luggage inside, for what outsiders know. Much depends on growing up and much on getting rid of unwelcome luggage and ties.

We sometimes need to deal with others that got under the influence of Yogananda and SRF - both of them. Even after leaving SRF or Yogananda, influences linger on in what is believed, and much else.

Still under the influence

Around 2001-2002, one third of the SRF monastics at the time left the SRF premises. It is not always easy for a monk or nun to do that. Ex monastics may feel out of step on the outside, and ex prisoners too.

One of the ex monastics rigged a discussion board.

The SRF Walrus board

The SRF Walrus was initially started "to help those who have been involved closely with Self Realization Fellowship . . . For most it is shocking when they get a close look at the reality of what the organization is like and it brings their loyalty to SRF and Yogananda into question . . . Come help us." The Walrus was met with open disregard, disparaging and denigration among SRF-faithful ones.

Some who posted on the SRF Walrus stated they had gone insane by the SRF methods and teachings - all of which goes along with two tricky problem:

  1. If someone that is insane says what was the cause of it, may it be trusted wholesale, and why?" It would depends on what kind of insanity went into it, and how severely disordered the professed victim might be.
  2. If such issues are taken to courts, the SRF teachings and methods may become public as court evidence, and SRF has tried to keep its kriya yoga secret for a long time, and not dragged anyone to court for getting insane from membership or their kriya yoga.

If getting involved with the teachings of Yogananda and/or Self-Realization Fellowship hurts a lot, it would have been better to stay away from them in the first place. But such warnings might be ignored - not by all, but by those who might need it the most, according to "Advice, when most needed, is least heeded. [Mieder et al. 1996:9]".

The moderator of an SRF-fond discussion-board called for moderation by: "To disparage a board that disparages others makes one board just like the other."

A board made up by disgruntled ex-members may not be a completely unbiased source of information. The board showed in many cases that "He who gives advice for nothing could be a bigger fool than he who does not take it." [cf. Mieder et al. 1996:10] and "Advising is easier than helping [Mieder et al. 1996:11]." Some well-meaning (?) members recommended shrinks to other members.

The Walrus moderator: "The scandals [we write of] are about the organization he started which is seriously off track . . . we are attempting to prevent SRF from harming more of his loving devotees. Most who come in contact with the core of SRF leave Master." So "Far from court, far from care".

The former SRF monastic and follower of Yogananda who started the Walrus discussion board, made it clear that critique of Yogananda would not be welcome on the board, but would be deleted. It happened, although a string about Yogananda praising dictatorship and Fascism was found there.

Going for Jungian individuation

Can discussion boards help us develop? It depends on how polite the boards may be, how truthful and well informed. Boards that allows anonymous contributions - shun them, and shun them well.

There is hope for some. Carl Gustav Jung describes four characteristic stages in a transforming process.

  1. Find out of what bothers us and be careful about it to get things off our chests without harming ourselves our nearest of kin, and dearest things, and so on.
  2. The next task is elucidate the material we grapple with. It might take some time.
  3. Then we should make clever use of material we have elucidated or work or elucidating to enter some favourable role where we fit in socially and in a wider perspective also - in part by manifesting some fine abilities, and in particular through a good education. From these assets we may rise to make money on our former, deep problems, and go for more rewarding fruits also.
  4. Going on in such ways, we may become more fully real persons, and so-called unconscious compulsion is replaced by developing selfhood. This is maturation towards individuation.

Another way of putting it: Living up to your sincere interests develops the personality. That is psychoanalytic thinking, at any rate. Also, getting a good education by following up sincere interests, makes the fare lighter, possibly. so cultivate your sincerest interests, and see if they branch out in time. It may happen. This branching out of interests is good, and furthers growth (development towards being a mature individual). As trees grow upwards and outwards, branched and solidified interests indicate growth (development and so on) in a process that Carl Jung calls differentiation.

Now, the process of maturation - not necessesarily stepwise or in such an order -, is essentially what Jung meant by a process of individuation.

Juged from such a sketch as given above, a discussion board may serve as a springboard for higher development, if we are careful. It can happen. "The process of individuation, becoming conscious of what is truly unique about oneself, is inextricably tied up with individuality and the development of personality," the Jungian analyst Daryl Sharp puts it in Digesting Jung (2001:63)

Jungian Individuation is a process . . . having for its goal the development of the individual personality. - Carl Gustav Jung (in Sharp 2001:63)

One should do better than expecting that an online discussion board that is made up of largely anonymous and disgruntled ex-members of SRF, is full of praise of SRF.

It is unwise to put all one's eggs of trust in one bag - especially not in anonymous posts - except for special reasons -, but rather in well respected authors, solid publishers and preferably in writers with fair and fit credentials - something like that. There are of course nuances also.

The discerning contributions may use "well respected authors, solid publishers and preferably a fair academic credentials" to support them, along with clear and apt literature references. That way of presentation props up the writer by links to accepted resources of valued ideas. Quality-aligning may help a long way under the circumstances.

A sad case

It happens that what is funny for spectators and newspaper readers is not funny for those involved. Study the details of the infamous case where DNA tests apparently clear Yogananda in a seven-year paternity dispute. It is generally thought that "Separate tests show the yogi didn't father a disciple's son with a lady." However, the man bringing the charges sticks to his claim, that Yogananda was his biological father. [Los Angeles Times/July 11, 2002, by Teresa Watanabe]

Yogananda, who died at age 59 in 1952, was accused of having an illicit affair with a married disciple, and fathering Ben Erskine. Ben's stepfather had berated his mother with accusations of an affair with the guru, Erskine said, and called him "the little black bastard" because his complexion was darker than that of his four siblings. Ben was not black, but not pink either.

To settle the claims, Yogananda's Self-Realization Fellowship hired a former San Diego criminal prosecutor to establish an independent testing process to compare Erskine's DNA to samples taken from Yogananda's three male relatives in India. And the results from two separate labs both showed no relationship between Erskine and Yogananda.

However, there is a weak link in the chain of events: The carrier of the DNA samples was an SRF monastic, not a neutral agent.. That is not the way to do it. Ben Erskine and his attorney, Shane Reed, rejected the results as biased because the blood specimens were collected and sent to the labs by a fellowship monk they claimed could have doctored the samples.

For SRF much was at stake: properties, rights, their guru's reputation and so on. OK, switching of samples is a possibility. SRF could have guarded against it, and it would have been an easy thing to to. One comes to wonder why they did not play by the rule, if they wanted to "settle all doubt." There is room for doubt, for SRF chose "to let a billygoat (monk) guard the sack of wild oats (DNA-samples)," in the way they handled it. A suspicion is roused.

Ben Erskine still believed that "Yogananda is my father." His attorney, Shane Reed, said they would review the DNA results to decide whether to proceed with a court request to disinter Yogananda's corpse . . . for further testing.

Learned folks hardly have time to spend on bad handling and rumours unless they are paid to do so, but there are exceptions. [A source - there are many more on the net]

Further observations

"One swallow does not make a summer" is a proverb. Several swallows seen may indicate that summer is here, though. But the conditions have to follow suit.

One good witness may get to the bottom of the troubles, whereas many bad, undeveloped fellows may not. There is that risk, particularly with anonymous postings . . .

"One moon outshines a thousand stars" There are good witnesses and others. Abraham Maslow found that self-actualisating people are better at finding out or judging than all the rest. [Pusb, Chap. 11] But to judge who are best self-actualised, is far from easy. And then again, a study at the Tokyo University into brain-waves of meditating Zen monks and how their Zen roshis (teachers) had evaluated their progress, tells that the longer the Zen monk had meditated in a Zen way, under supervision, the better was his said progress. The findings are indicative. [Study]

"If you have the moon, ignore the stars (Moorish Proverb)." If we transfer the findings of Zen meditators to an SRF ashram, is it true that the longer people stay in that environment, the clearer they understand, and the more reliable their testimonies will be, in average? Not necessarily. It would also depend on how repressive, hostile or abusive the compared environments might be. There is a host of caveats. The witness has to be gauged too, for a wicked testimony from a short stay may count very little as compared to testimonies of gentle and good monastics who had been there for years, for example. And again, one quite full moon outshines a thousand stars. Let the self-realised ones tell also, let both sides be heard. That is democratic.

Learned doctors are stars on earth. (Saying)" Well learned and relevantly trained doctors could have what it takes to evaluate just who brings the most light on an intellectual level, at the very least. You have to question and inspect what kind of judge is about too, to lessen or get rid of incompetent evaluations, various sidings, etc.

"If the full moon loves you, why worry about the stars?" Tunisian Proverb) One decent, well educated or wise, old or much realised witness has the advantage of such cardinal qualities when witnessing. It goes against distorted views, emotional and cramped ill-will, distortions from being hurt, overreactions and fault-finding a la reformed alcoholics - they want to get rid of the thing and not fully harmonised yet - you name it.

Contents


SRF Walrus and Yogananda surf, Literature  

Dietz, Margaret Bowen. Thank You, Master. Nevada City, CA: Crystal Clarity, 1998.

Kriyananda, Swami. The New Path: My Life with Paramhansa Yogananda. 3nd ed. Nevada City, CA: Crystal Clarity, 2010.

⸻. A Place Called Ananda. Rev. 2nd ed. Nevada City: Hansa Trust: 2001.

Mieder, Wolfgang (main ed.), Stewart A. Kingsbury, and Kelsie E. Harder: A Dictionary of American Proverbs. (Paperback) New York: Oxford University Press, 1996.

Nikhilananda, Swami. The Upanishads. Abr. ed. New York: Harper Torchbook, 1964.

⸻. The Upanishads: Aitareya and Brihadaranyaka. Vol. 3. 1st ed. New York: Harper and Brothers, 1956.

Parkinson, C. Northcote. Parkinson's Law: And Other Studies in Administration. Cambridge: The Riverside Press, 1957.

Parsons, Jon R. A Fight for Religious Freedom: A Lawyer's Personal Account of Copyrights, Karma and Dharmic Litigation. Nevada City, CA: Crystal Clarity Publishers, 2012.

Satyeswarananda, sw., tr: Inner Victory: With Lahiri Mahasay's Commentaries. San Diego: The Sanskrit Classics, 1987.

Sharp, Daryl. Digesting Jung: Food for the Journey. Toronto: Inner City Books, 2001.

SRF Walrus Discussion Forum. [◦Back-up into 2006 exists (2017)]

Williamson, Lola. Transcendent in America: Hindu-Inspired Meditation Movements as New Religion. London: New York University Press, 2010.

Yogananda, Paramahansa. Autobiography of a Yogi. 1st ed. New York: Theosophical, 1946. Online.

SRF Walrus and Yogananda surf, To top Section Set Next

SRF Walrus and Yogananda surf USER'S GUIDE: [Link]
© 2002–2017, Tormod Kinnes, MPhil. [Email]  ᴥ  Disclaimer: [Link]